Irish city councils struggling to hire staff for rollout of walking and cycling routes

Most county councils have filled or are close to filling their allocation of Active Travel staff responsible for the rollout of walking and cycling infrastructure, but city-based councils are still struggling to fill such positions, according to data released after a Freedom of Information request.

By the end of Q2 2023, 70% of allocated Active Travel staff roles funded by the National Transport Authority have been filled across the country, but some have lower than half of their allocation filled.

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Some councils have complained that it is harder to fill and retain staff in cities due to the higher costs of living. The staff in Active Travel teams in different councils varies, but can include engineers, planners, architects, and admin staff. Due to the economy being at full employment and a short supply of skilled workers, there is also competition from private-sector consultants, who are understood to be paying a premium.

The data released by the National Transport Authority shows that the three city-based councils at the lower end are Waterford City and County Council at 42% of 12 positions filled, Galway City Council with 48% of 25 jobs filled, and South Dublin County Council with 55% of 18 of the allocated posts filled.

Local authorities outside cities generally have 80-100% of their allocation filled, but an outlier with 43% filled is Clare County Council with just 2.5 of 6 positions filled.

In the middle of the ranking for cities are Dublin City Council with 60% of their allocated 55 positions filled Fingal County Council has 61% of its allocated 18 jobs filled and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council with 67% of 18 jobs filled.

At the higher end are Limerick City and County Council with 83% of 23 jobs filled.

The non-city councils in the Greater Dublin Area — Wicklow County Council, Kildare County Council, and Meath County Council — have between 67% and 83% of positions filled.

Dublin City Council recently noted in an update to councillors that “The Active Travel Programme Office was set up in February 2022 and the team continues to grow despite challenges recruiting some skills and is staffed by engineers, planners, architects, site staff, walking and cycling officers, administrators and landscape architects.”

Dave Tobin, the vice-chairperson of Cyclist.ie, a national campaign group, said: “It’s incredibly disappointing to see local authorities in cities such as Galway and Waterford still failing to approach full staffing levels. We can see the direct impact this has on the ground with people in these cities losing out when it comes to delivering active travel projects.”

“That this is happening as we see transport emissions rise here and witness catastrophic climate breakdown across some our European neighbours is simply unacceptable,” he said.

Tobin said: “It’s also interesting to see local authorities like Limerick that are staffed up appropriately are succeeding in delivering. Active Travel Teams with a strong multidisciplinary makeup including roles such as dedicated comms officers and behavioural scientists are getting more projects across the line and are delivering to a better standard. This is something which should show even more improvement as the new Cycle Design Manual is released in the coming weeks.”

He added: “We need to see urgency from both government and the NTA to get these vacant posts filled. The 6% increase in transport emissions has Ireland moving in the wrong direction. Without proper staffing levels we simply can’t get the cycling infrastructure needed in place for modal shift and to help meet our climate responsibilities.”

Correction: This article originally reported that “Fingal County Council has 100% of its allocated 11 jobs filled” — this was based on the information provided by the NTA. The accurate data is 11 of an allocation of 18, which is 61%.

Local Authority NTA-funded Active Travel team staffing
Staffing AllocationTotal at end of Q2 2023Percentage filled
Carlow County Council44100%
Cavan County Council44100%
Clare County Council62.543%
Cork City Council231774%
Cork County Council181478%
Donegal County Council4580%
Dublin City Council553260%
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown181267%
Fingal County Council181161%
Galway City Council251248%
Galway County Council44100%
Kerry County Council4580%
Kildare County Council12867%
Kilkenny County Council4375%
Laois County Council44100%
Leitrim County Council44100%
Limerick City and County Council231983%
Longford County Council44100%
Louth County Council44100%
Mayo County Council44100%
Meath County Council121083%
Monaghan County Council44100%
Offaly County Council44100%
Roscommon County Council4375%
Sligo County Council44100%
South Dublin County Council181055%
Tipperary County Council44100%
Waterford City and County Council12542%
Westmeath County Council44100%
Wexford County Council44100%
Wicklow County Council12975%
Total317233.570.50%

A separate Freedom of Information request to Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) which looks after greenways and national roads found that it has funded 43 staff on greenways and active travel in councils and 11 internally.

TII did not reply to requests for the number of allocated staff. Greenways in city-based council areas are covered by NTA funding.

Local AuthorityStaff – Whole positions GW & AT
Donegal Co. Co.7
Leitrim Co. Co.2
Sligo Co. Co. 3
Cavan Co. Co.1
Longford Co. Co.0
Monaghan Co. Co.1
Louth Co. Co.0
Offaly Co. Co.1
Westmeath Co. Co.2
Galway Co Co7
Mayo Co Co5
Roscommon Co Co2
Kerry Co Co4
Cork Co Co3
Clare Co Co1
Tipp Co Co0
Limerick Co Co3
Meath Co Co0
Kildare Co Co0
Wicklow Co Co0
South Dublin Co Co0
Fingal Co Co0
DunLaoghaire Rathdown Co Co0
Dublin City Co0
Laois Co Co0
Carlow Co Co0
Kilkenny Co Co0
Waterford City & Co Co0
Wexford Co Co1
TII11

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